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Durban Airbase

The origins of Air Force Base Durban can be traced back as far as 1 August 1940 when the Department of Defence took over control of the first Durban Municipal Aerodrome at Stamford Hill.

In 1945 the South African Air Force moved to Maydon Wharf where Air Force Station Congella was established. From here operated 35 Squadron's Catalina Flying Boats and later the Short Sunderland GR5 Flying Boats. However, the Stamford Hill aerodrome was still in use as the Air Force was also operating four different types of land-based aircraft - Harvards, Venturas, Oxfords and Spitfires.

September 1956 saw the Air Force move to the newly completed Louis Botha Airport at Reunion where it was known as Air Force Station Durban. Lodger units included "Air Commando No 5" (which became the present day 105 Volunteer Air Squadron) established in September 1963, and 16 Squadron, operating Alouette III's, which were transferred to Durban on 6 January 1969.

On 1 April 1980, AFB Durban proudly accepted their newly upgraded status from "Station" to "Base", and the following year 15 Squadron was posted as one unit to AFB Durban, operating the Super Frelon and Alouette III helicopter types.

Air Force Base Durban temporarily lost its status in 1993 with the large-scale rationalisation taking place at that time, but by May 1996 the unit was re-activated as a fully fledged Air Force Base with the necessary personnel to rum it.

Presently, there are three lodger units at Air Force Base Durban, these are 15 Squadron, 105 Squadron and 508 Squadron.

The South African Air Force upheld a superb record throughout its involvement in the Second World War. 44569men had volunteerd for service during the War and of these some 2227 members died of which 92 had been wounded or injured whilst serving and 273 had been taken as prisoner of war. Capt E. Swales, a member of the South African Air Force seconded to the Royal Air Force, was awarded a Posthumous Victoria Cross. One member of the South African Air Force was created a companion of the Bath. Nine were made Commanders of the Order of the British Empire and 35 were admitted to the Distinguished service order. There were 26 OBE's and 63 MBE's reflected in Wartime honours and decorations to members of the South African Air Force included 429 DFC's, 88 AFC's, 5 MC's, 2 George medals, 5 King's medals for bravery, 2mm's, 23 DFM's, 13 AFM's and 36 BEM's.

The instruction to stand down was received from Desert Air Force on July 16, 1945. All aircraft, spares and technical equipment was handed in before proceeding from Lecce to Bari Transit camp. On August 9, 1945, 15 Sqn was officially disbanded, thus bringing to a close the first chapter in their long and illustrations history.



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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:09:57 ZULU